An Italian Straw Hat


By Eugene Labiche & Marc Michel adapted by Thomas Walton


A Silver Jubilee Production by the Southampton Theatre Guild


Performed at The Nuffield Theatre on 15th to 18th July, 1970


A note from the Guild Chairman, Dr. K. M. Lobb

The Southampton Theatre Guild is a federation of amateur dramatic societies in Southampton and its immediate neighbourhood. It provides a forum for the discussion of theatrical problems, it offers the services of a panel of experienced critics, it supplies a clearing-house of ideas on the work of the different member societies, and its annual Theatre Guild Ball with offerings at the shrine of  Thalia as well as at that of  Terpsichore is one of the events of the Southampton season.


All these activities except the last, go on, as it were, behind the scenes, and it is only rarely that the Guild emerges as a separate entity, making it all the more interesting that now, for only the fourth time in the 25 years of its history, the Guild itself is presenting a dramatic performance. In 1947 the Guild staged the Quincentenary Charter Pageant. In 1960 there was a successful showing of Anouilh’s Ring Round the Moon, in aid of the Mayor’s appeal for the Florence Nightingale Memorial Chapel at the Royal South Hants and Southampton Hospital, and in 1964 the Guild presented Measure for Measure as part of the celebrations at the opening of the Nuffield Theatre. And now that the Guild in its turn is celebrating its own silver jubilee, there can be no fitter way of doing so than a further joint production. And no happier choice could have been made than the classic French farce An Italian Straw Hat by Eugene Labiche and Marc Michel. This is a really practical example of Guild cooperation. The direction is in the capable hands of Ken Spencer and he is supported by representatives of no fewer than nine member-societies.

Success to one and all !


Click here to read a synopsis of the various theatrical groups operating in Southampton area in the 1970's 


Characters in order of appearance


The Midinettes

Eileen Eagle, Angela Broomfield, Sandra Falla, Linda Moston

Virginia, Mme. Beaujolais’ maid

Maxine Brooks

Felix, Fadinard’s valet

David Dudley

Vezinet, Helen’s deaf uncle

Peter White

Fadinard, a young man of independent means, the bridegroom

Graham Buchanan

Emile Tavernier, a Captain of Zouaves

Kenneth Spencer

Annette, Mme. Beaujolais

Frances Dudley

Nonancourt, the bride’s father, a nursery gardener

Philip Venitt

Helen, the bride

Anne Browne

Boby, the bride’s cousin

Alan Fisk

Clara, a milliner

Mollie Manns

Tardivau, Clara’s cashier

John Lelliott

The wedding guests

Archie Batt, Susan Rennett, Ann Daniel, Carol Edwards, Ena Hamon, Heather Magrath, Ruth Weeks, Jack Wray, Lewis Yapp, Phillip Molyneaux

La Comptesse de Champigny, a society hostess

Barbara Warde

Achille de Rosalba, the countess’ cousin

 John Carrington

A footman

Paul Fletcher

La Duchesse de Chateau Gaillard

Jenny Miller

Le Due de Chateau Gaillard

Cyril Crocker

Mlle. Ondine de Chateau Lapompe

Philippa Fielder

Clotilde, the countess’ maid

Sarah Fisk

M. Beaujolais, Annette’s husband

Philip E. Graham

A corporal of the National Guard

Michael Shailer

National Guards

John Greenhouse, Ken Hann, Keith Hooper

 A photographer

Keith Hooper



For the Theatre Guild


Directed by

Ken Spencer

Stage Director

Ron Tillyer

Stage Manager

Rey Gosney

Assistant Stage Managers

David Cook, Andy Fish, John Schwiller


Kenneth Spencer, Caroline Reeves

Stage Carpenter

Bob Gibson

Assisted by

Neil Pickering


Bristol Old Vic And Nathans


Liz Collings, Kay Hann


Hebe Martin


Keith And Jill Parker


Sandra Crook, Betty Riggs

Fu rn itu re

Shepherd & Hedger (Maple) Ltd.


Colin Strange


Geoff Grandy

Musical recording

Malcolm Willcock

Business & Publicity

John W. Smith

Window & Foyer Displays

John Carrington


Courtney Hosking

Secretary to the Director

Rosemary Hardy



Member-Societies of Southampton Theatre Guild (circa 1970)


THE CLAIMANTS were formed as the drama group of an insurance company, hence their unusual name. Their productions are staged in the Avenue Hall.


THE CLUMP LITTLE THEATRE began in 1947 as the Bassett Heath Players, and for ten years performed at the Avenue Hall. From 1957 to 1961 the group used St. Michael’s Hall, Bassett, but in 1963 their hard work and enterprise enabled them to open their own Little Theatre in an old coach house near the Clump Inn, Chilworth, bringing about another change of name. The group presented many productions in this theatre, and had plans for its further improvement, but at the present time the building is required for another use, and the group is again looking for new premises.


THE DALIAN PLAYERS started from humble beginnings in 1950, with a choir platform and organ to hide and only a patched set of tabs ! They use the Woolston Methodist Church Hall to which they are affiliated by personal membership. Since then the group has improved their stage facilities, and present a varied programme throughout the year, including pantomime, plays and light entertainment for bazaars and other functions. Recent productions include Pygmalion and Blithe Spirit.


EASTLEIGH DRAMATIC SOCIETY established in 1931, has its own little theatre at Allbrook. The Old School Theatre was converted by the society in 1950 from the disused Allbrook School which gives the theatre its name. It now boasts a raked auditorium and stage with revolve and wagons, workshops and scenery stores, and there are still more additions to be made as funds become available. Most of the renovation work has been done by the company, who at the same time, present 2 or 3 plays a year, each for 10 or 12 night runs. Maintenance of the theatre leaves little time for other outside activities !


EASTLEIGH OPERATIC SOCIETY was formed in 1935 to produce Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a policy continued-with two exceptions-until 1958 when it was decided to venture into musical plays. Since then the society has produced many musicals with great success, the most recent being Kalman’s Gipsy Princess. Their next production will be Brigadoon. Productions are staged at Eastleigh Town Hall, and the society includes a number of social activities in its programme.


ESSO MUSIC AND DRAMA GROUP have staged over 60 plays, shows, revues, pantomimes and musicals since its formation 20 years ago. These range from Shakespeare to Wilde and from home-grown topical revue to Gilbert and Sullivan. Although, the group usually performs at the Esso Cinema, Holbury, they have staged open-air productions at Beaulieu, and visited other groups. Their forthcoming programme includes a revue, Aladdin, and a play in the Spring.


THE HAMBLE PLAYERS began existence in a hut behind the RAF Yacht Club 17 years ago. When Stuart Jacobs took over as producer and back- bone of the society they moved to their present home at Hamble Village Memorial Hall. The death of Stuart Jacobs some 4 years ago was an enormous loss to the group, but under the guidance of various producers and encouraged by the Theatre Guild they have reorganised into a strong society with recent productions of You Never Can Tell, Under Milk Wood and She Stoops to Conquer to their credit.


THE MASKERS DRAMATIC SOCIETY was formed late in 1968 and grew from a small nucleus of members into a prominent group with three Nuffield Theatre productions in their first year: Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet  and The Seagull Among a long list of other activities they have organised play-readings for the blind, hospital broad- casting, events at Southampton Show and the Carnival, a revue, readings at the Fo’c’sle Club, two tours of schools with their Shakespearean productions, and an evening of one-acters at the Marlands Hall. Their most recent production was Thomas Otway’s rarely performed Restoration comedy The Soldier’s Fortune, and their next is to be a stage adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic novel, War and Peace, at the Nuffield Theatre.


SOUTHAMPTON CENTRAL EVENING TOWNSWOMEN’S GUILD drama group, in existence for 21 years, produces a wide variety of plays despite the limitations of an all-female membership. Their latest production is an episode in a Dickens centenary show at the Chantry Hall.


SOUTHAMPTON MUSICAL SOCIETY was formed in 1928 with a concert at the Central Hall. Rehearsals for Rose Marie were interrupted by the war, during which the society and kindred societies formed the Southampton Troops Entertainment Service. From 1948 shows were performed at the Royal Pier Pavilion, the Plaza Cinema and the Guildhall. Their first show at the Gaumont Theatre in 1960, The Merry Widow, was a tremendous success fully justifying the venture in taking on that large theatre and enabling a new chapter in the society’s history to be opened. In 1983 a new management and production team was formed and productions, sometimes two in one year, continue at the Gaumont. Over £1800 has been donated to local charity from these shows. Membership stands at over 250, and some founder members still belong.


SOUTHAMPTON AMATEUR OPERATIC SOCIETY developed from the Southampton Above Bar Guild Musical and Dramatic Society founded in 1924. First productions were of operettas and plays, but the society is now best known for its annual productions of Gilbert and Sullivan opera, still using Sullivan’s orchestral score. The first musical production ever given in Southampton Guildhall was presented by the society, which before then had staged productions in many halls and theatres including the Watts Hall, the Palace Theatre, the Grand Theatre, the Royal Pier Pavilion, and the Avenue Hall. The society is still very active, and its latest venture has been the design and construction of its own scenery for the Guildhall.


THE SOUTHAMPTON STUDENT PLAYERS were inaugurated in 1927 and have continued uninterrupted even by the war. Included among their notable productions are The Young Elizabeth, The Chester Cycle involving a cast of 100 players, and Peer Gynt. The society is the only amateur company in Britain to have performed the complete Wesker trilogy. Four times representative at the British Drama League one-act finals, once winner of the All England finals, once representative at the British Drama league full-length festival, and having performed on television at Lime Grove, the society has enjoyed considerable competitive success. Every type of theatrical production from Shakespeare to pantomime has been performed. The society’s home at 58 French Street, Southampton, is a building of great architectural interest preserved now as an ancient monument.


SOUTHERN THEATRE PRODUCTIONS was founded in 1962 to promote entertainments in the form of musical shows and the like in the main towns of Hampshire. The company is principally based in Southampton where all rehearsals are held, but members come from Portsmouth, Bournemouth and northwards from the Winchester area. Shows to date have been The Merry Widow.  Perchance to Dream, Wedding in Paris, White Horse inn, The Desert Song, Rose Marie, Glamorous Night and The Dancing Years.. In addition the company presents concerts for charity and for OAP associations. The status of the company is amateur, but it functions on professional lines. It is governed by a management who insist on a high sense of discipline, and the company is proud of its success.


THE WAYFARERS DRAMATIC SOCIETY founded in 1943 by Miss O'Cicely Deverill, has grown from small beginnings into one of the most enterprising groups in the area. Early productions, at the Avenue Hall, ranged from Our Town to Hamlet. The next phase of its history centred on the Chantry Hall, where notable productions of Eliot, Shakespeare, Moliere, Whiting, Bolt and many others were given. At this time Wayfarers began their informal Green Room evenings of unusual and not-too-serious drama which remain a feature of their work today. Wayfarers’ major productions are now presented at the Nuffield Theatre, where their successes have included plays by Pinter, Osborne, Brecht, Pirandello, Shaw and Wilde. From 24 to 26 September Giraudoux’s The Madwoman Of Chaillot will be staged at the Nuffield.